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Tulips NOW!

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mysterious Apricot Beauty

Those of you who read here regularly may have noticed that I’ve been slacking off lately.Life has a way of interfering with blogging, sometimes, and I’ve been going through one of those times.But what better way to bring this blog back to life than to talk about that other resurrection, those brown dry bulbs that turn into flamboyant or shy beauties that can send a moribund mood into happy orbit? Of course, I’m talking about tulips.Yes, the time to think about tulips is NOW.Because if you want this (or something like it) next spring

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brilliant yellow West Point, backed up by Purissima tulip and Hawera narcissus

you must get your bulbs NOW. And you must plant them soon.Why should you plant tulips?Because they’re one of the best mood elevators around, and you don’t have to worry about liver failure or kidney damage to use them.Because they are incredibly beautiful, and life can’t have too many beautiful things.Because they can be beautiful like delicate wildflowers

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 Tulipa bataalinii Apricot Jewel. Not quite a species, but close.or the most flamboyant  notes of spring

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Generaal de Wet, an heirloom with a musky scent that fills the atmosphere

and everything in between.

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white sport of Creme Upstar

Because tulips sales have gone down in this country (even before the economy did. Could one have to do with the other?). We need to support beauty in our yards, our neighborhoods, our public gardens. Beauty makes people better. It even cuts down on crime.Because (if you live in a climate that gets at least some freeezes) they are one of the easiest possible things you can grow.Because you can grow tulips anywhere, even in unexpected places.

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Apricot Beauty, again

Because they are beautiful, come rain

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Queen of the Night – no garden should be without it

or come shine.

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Tulipa bataalinii Bright Gem

Because they change from beauty to beauty, from the shy opening in the morning

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Yellow-and-white Sweetheart tulip, with Lady Jane in the background

to the soul-baring midday spread.

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Purissima (or White Emperor), a tulip that can last for twenty years in the garden

Because even if your garden is a doorstep or balcony, a container of tulips will bring you the thrill of the first sprout

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the new bud

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the opening flower

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yes, that’s Apricot Beauty again. I’m a little sick on the subject of Apricot Beauty.

and a flower that changes beautifully in the course of its life, gorgeous to the end.

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Also a little sick on the subject of Queen of the Night – can you blame me?

If you want ideas on what varieties to get, you can enter “tulips” in the search engine on this site, and get many many writeups, from my Tulipomania week and from all the other times I could sneak in a tulip post.If you want ideas on where to get tulips, this link will take you to the first of a series of 5 posts where I laid bare my feelings about my favorite bulb catalogs.If you’re feeling strapped for cash, be sure to check out “13 Ways to Get Your Tulips to Come Back”  before you order. The first item on the list is choosing the right varieties; some come back more easily than others (check the note below the picture of Purissima, above). Pick the right ones, and you may have a show for years to come.Another way to save cash is to wait for the end-of-season sales. Since these don’t start until November, that means you have to live in a place where the ground doesn’t freeze hard by then. Another caveat is that your selections will be limited. On the other hand, that also means that you don’t have to make so many decisions, a good thing for the weak-willed. (Being weak-willed, I am going the end-of-season-sale route myself this year. I have so many hundreds of bulbs, and I want so many hundreds more – I need all the help I can get. Short of actually stopping buying bulbs, of course.)If you want more inspiration, try Dianne Benson’s paeon to tulips at DirtierOr just take a good look at the pictures in this post, or in a catalogue, or on a bulb-selling website, and imagine that greeting you at your door next spring.

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{ 14 comments… add one }

  • Town Mouse October 27, 2009, 8:51 pm

    You almost tempt me, but I know Mr. Mouse would cut them up for an omelette by mistake during the requisite frost time in the fridge. And they won’t grow here without fridge time, so I’ll have to stick with natives.

    I do love all your tulip photos, though, thanks so much for sharing!

  • Sylvia (England) October 28, 2009, 3:32 am

    I have mine ready to plant, Pomona, though not as many as I would like. Now if my back gets better they will get into the ground next month, if not they will go into pots!

    Hope all is well with you. Best wishes Sylvia (England)

  • tina October 28, 2009, 4:18 am

    Welcome back. I just planted the last of my tulips yesterday. Tulipifera biflora I think it was. I hope they do as well as the linifolias. Of course I stuck in some hybrids for flash. Planting bulbs is such an optimistic thing to do in the fall.

  • Daffodil Planter October 28, 2009, 1:30 pm

    A splendid return PB. Wish this gorgeous post were a slideshow set to music. How about it? YouTube?

  • Susie October 28, 2009, 5:03 pm

    Wow, beautiful post…not too much luck with them down here…I’ll have to admire from afar. Love that Apricot Beaty & Qeeen of the Night!

  • ryan October 28, 2009, 7:46 pm

    I’m trying T. saxatalis this year. Supposedly it naturalizes around here, though I haven’t ever noticed them.

  • Tatyana October 29, 2009, 3:51 pm

    What a beatiful post! Wonderful blooms! Cream upstar is very, very elegant.

  • Helen at Toronto Gardens October 29, 2009, 4:33 pm

    Welcome back, Pomona, we’ve missed you. Tulips are one of the few things that stand up to dry shade, making spring one of my best seasons. I’ve held off planting anything this year, as I ponder a big make-over in the garden. However, I might run out and get a few, just in case. One never knows when life will obtrude… and I’d hate to miss the spring show.

  • Frances October 31, 2009, 1:34 pm

    So nice to see you back, Pomona. I am with you, everyone that can should plant more tulips. I have done my part with 200, not nearly enough but the lottery has not been won just yet, of the apricot jewel you have shown in this post. It must be a good one for you to have it. :-)
    Frances

  • Cyd November 2, 2009, 1:04 pm

    Happy to read about tulips again Pomona! I think of you and all the wonderful things you have taught this year as I plant a few bulbs.

  • wayne November 8, 2009, 3:45 am

    what a wonderful reemergence, makes my own a bit dull. glad to see you are still blogging and sharing your love for tulips

  • Bette December 10, 2009, 8:19 pm

    A landscaper offered me tulips at cost, but it’s December 10 in the Baltimore area. Is it too late to plant them? Would planting them in pots be better? Help, he’s going to throw thousands away .

  • Pomona Belvedere December 11, 2009, 2:23 pm

    Take them take them take them. I have planted bulbs in December (or even very early January) and it has worked out. Much later, and you might get what they call “blind” bulbs: they will leaf out, but not bloom until the next year (if properly fertilized. Tulips are a bit touchier about this than other bulbs).

    I’m not sure what zone Baltimore is but if your ground isn’t frozen (and you don’t have rodents who will eat them) there is no particular advantage to planting in pots. If your ground is frozen, then pots are probably your only option (and allow you to plant indoors where it’s warm if you don’t mind the mess). I have planted bulbs while snow was falling and it wasn’t a lark but the bulbs came up well.

    If you go for it, I’d love to hear how your planting worked out (and what kinds of bulbs you got).

  • Linda Vater October 4, 2010, 6:14 am

    I too am mad for tulips……..and I loved reading your passionate words about them. A real joy. I am new to your site, but will visit often. Please visit mine as well for pictures of tulips in Oklahoma. One can never get enough, can one?

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